Sunday, July 13, 2014

Rockwell Relay, Part VI

GOOD FOR BOB

Bob wasn't really saying as much as he was doing. When it was concluded that Andrew was done for this leg, Bob looked around, went back into the van and grabbed a few things and started unloading his bike.

"Bob, what are you doing?" I asked. (Yes, I did seem to do as much of the talking as anyone. This is not surprising to anyone that knows me.)

"Well, it's a relay. I'm up next, so I'll just start from here," he replied.

Bob figured there were no two ways about it, that we should just keep going. I was impressed with Bob for his attitude, but also worried about Bob at the same time. Bob had had a tough first leg between the heat, wind, and final climb. And after Bob's first half of his second leg, it seemed like most of his real work would be through as he would have a couple big descents that he could really fly on. But Bob had a BIG climb to tackle before he could enjoy all of this downhill. And to add this EXTRA climb to finish Andrew's leg right before he would attempt his own climb was not something I thought we needed to do. So far the race had proved to be more than what we had surmised based on the numbers in our Race Bible. This was something that the event promoters had warned about, and boy were they right. 

"Bob, it's okay. We are going to drive ahead to the transition point. You can start your leg as planned." The other team was far ahead of us, and we were already being passed by some of the 9:00 starters and even a few of the 12:00 starters (I think). We could save a little time, and still thoroughly enjoy what we came to do. Everyone agreed and we moved on Torrey.

LEG 6

It was now about 10:40 pm and Bob was on the road. It was at the transition that I would spot the Team Fatty van roll in, and I got excited. (When you've been up since 4:00 am and getting ready for the race/supporting the rider/actually riding for almost 19 hours, the little things can go a long ways.) Based on the timing of everything I knew it wouldn't be too long before they were passing us on the road. 

We caught up to Bob was he was doing well. He had about 5 miles before things would turn up. The wind seemed to be dying down (at least in the van), and the temperature was dropping. He would be climbing over 3,000 feet in about a 10 mile section. The further the road went up the steeper it seemed to get. Bob was able to pass 1 or 2 riders at the base of the climb, then it was all him for a while. Digging deep to continue climbing Bob would bury his head and do a quick look up every few seconds, making sure he was heading in the right direction.

As usual, we would get out and wait for our rider to come by and see if they needed anything. Though Bob did have headphones in, I think he liked just ignoring us or at least waiting until he was past us to ask for anything. And I'm sure this wasn't just because this was at night. He also did this on his other legs.

I told Bob that when he got to the summit he should plan on stopping so we could get some full finger gloves and a jacket of some sort on him so he didn't freeze in the wind on the way down. However, as it was getting pretty cold still on the way up, I remember at one point asking him if he needed a coat.

"Yeah."

I ran over to the van grabbed a jacket and gave it to Andrew to cross back over the street to give it to Bob so he could keep going and stay warm. Andrew jogged over and waited for Bob, and then came running back. But he still had the jacket.

"He said he wants a COKE, not a COAT!" We all laughed as Andrew was in a hurry to get Bob's request and catch up to him. (This may have been the steepest part of the climb, so he was still within reach on foot.)

Andrew came back from getting Bob his Coke, not coat, and was laughing. Bob was telling him he had to hurry as he didn't want to get passed by the guy behind him. We enjoyed seeing Bob's competitive nature still going strong in the middle of the night.

It was at this exchange we would see Team Fatty's van go driving by. I knew they were close, I just didn't realize how close. By the time we got to our next stop and were waiting for Bob to ride by I realized that Team Fatty was the only team around. That said, I knew that the person behind Bob must have been from their team. And I knew he stood no chance of not being passed on his climb. So when I saw the team member come flying by I realized he had in fact been passed. And, after reading Fatty's write-up of this leg, we know know Bob was actually 'chicked' by none other that the Hammer. He had no chance.

Once at the top, Bob switched out some gear and we were headed down. As we had read about, we took the strategy of driving in front of Bob, making sure he wouldn't be taking out any deer on the way down (or they wouldn't be taking him out). As luck would have it we did encounter deer on two separate occasions in the middle of the road on our way to Boulder. Once his leg was over he was sure to express his gratitude for us being in front of him. Though maybe we were a bit too far in front of him as he feared the deer would have time and jump back into the road before he passed them. (In my defense was trying to encourage him to lay off the brakes and let gravity pull him down the mountain.)

(As we missed getting any pics during the night, I've added another pic of Bob grinding up a climb during his first leg. Just imagine it is darker, and colder. This was Bob.)
It was just after 2:30 am when Bob finished. He had ridden hard and helped myself (and I think Mike) gain back our confidence that completing this race was something that we could and would do.

LEG 7

I WISH I had some pics of Mike's descent just after a short climb coming out of Boulder. It was a full moon, so we could see the drop off that would welcome him on both sides of the road for much of this part of his ride. It was incredible, unlike anything I had seen before. Instead, like Fatty, I will point you to an amazing video that another team took of the race. From 4:30 to the 5:00 minute mark you can get an understanding of this part of the leg. Mike did great on this section of road, though I was a bit nervous about not actually being behind the driver seat as we descended some treacherous switchbacks before the road turned up again.

Somewhere during this leg I thought I would try and get some sleep. My stomach was killing me, and I hoped the rest would help my body recover and be ready for my second leg that would be shortly awaiting me. And...with about 5 minutes of sleep I would wake up to Mike being lost. Apparently Mike had either gone by without our knowing, or something had gone wrong. We got back on the road and drove back to where we had last seen Mike. Nothing. At this point I took the wheel (I was wide awake again, and not wanting to puke sitting in back), and we headed back up the road to find our guy. After some time, and passing many a rider, we found Mike.

"Sorry Mike," Bob yelled out the window as we slowed to pass.

"That's okay. I was getting a little worried...Can I get some water," Mike replied (or something like that).

We exchanged bottles with Mike and I could tell he had been rationing. One bottle was empty and the other had only a small amount left. Talking with Mike after the race he pointed out that when he didn't see us for some time he asked another rider he would catch if they could work together. Doing so now left Mike not so alone, and was about to provide another water source as he was about to ask for some help in that regard just before we showed up.

But team and water or not, Mike was making great time. In fact, this would be our fastest leg of the race in terms of ranking. So maybe there was something to be said for making your guy sweat a little.

It was exactly 6:00 am when Mike rolled into Henrieville. We had been riding for 24 hours. The sun was just coming up over the mountain, Mike was happy to be done. There was only one problem...I was nowhere in sight...TO BE CONTINUED...

(The exchange point in Henrieville. I should have been waiting like these guys for their rider to come in. But I wasn't.)

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